I was asked to write something about my Confirmation into the Catholic Church so here I am! It has been one month since the big day and I still have not had enough time to process it by any means! There are so many beautiful things about the sacrament of Confirmation that all the sacraments have in common but two things I wanted to talk about in this little blurb…
First, here is the wonderful reality…I will never be able to fully comprehend or process the truth, beauty and goodness of the Sacraments. I have eternity to do so and even that is not enough time! It just gets deeper and deeper and more and more profound and beautiful. “No ear has heard and no mind has conceived what God has in store for those who love him.” Isaiah 64:4 Yes, God was talking about heaven here but I really believe he was also talking about “heaven on earth” here too, which is the Sacraments Jesus instituted with the apostles that have been handed down to our present generation in an unbroken line of historical continuity. How amazing! We will never comprehend it, even in heaven, it will get deeper and deeper and in the Catholic Church, through the Sacraments, we get to start that experience of heaven here and now!
Confession: I always kind-of dreaded heaven. It seemed soooooo boring, like an eternal church service! Like my attention span would be perfected in heaven and that I would be all about it for all eternity! I love going to church, don’t get me wrong, but I think you may understand what I am saying here. But as I learned about the Sacraments and the amazing insights in the doctrines of the Catholic Church I realized heaven starts now and it only gets better in heaven! I am so excited heaven is not a destination and not an eternal church service! Life on earth is a journey and guess what, eternal life is a journey too, a journey of getting deeper and deeper into the truth, beauty and goodness of God. I don’t know what it looks like but I know it’s going to be always getting better and always more interesting and my Confirmation was not a destination but the beginning of a beautiful journey of experiencing heaven on earth to prepare me for eternal life in heaven with God.
The second beautiful, true and good thing about the sacraments is that I don’t have to process it to make it real. It is not just an “experience”. It is an experience because God loves us, knows us, and knows we need experiences, physical signs and dates to look back to. However, the experience does not change its reality or its effect. God gives real grace through the Sacraments. That is why He created them! So we could experience the grace of God through physical signs because we are BOTH body and spirit. The sacraments are the physical sign of the spiritual reality! Honestly, my Confirmation was over in a flash. I spent 3 years preparing for my Confirmation and First Eucharist. Then it was over, it was amazing but it all happened so fast! However, its reality and effect stands in the face of the gnawing doubts that plagued me as a protestant Christian, “Am I really saved?” “Have I really experienced God?” Those are just the beginning of so many doubts I had so often over and over, even though I had countless “experiences” with God. What makes the Sacrament of Confirmation and Holy Communion different? It comes down to one thing, it’s not about ME! It’s not about my personal experience or lack thereof! I can’t muster up the experience of the Sacraments. I can’t prepare myself for it by having a good week of prayer and Bible reading. I can’t make it happen by getting myself to “feel close to God” by having the right songs played in worship that move me. It’s not about me. It is not about an experience. I don’t have to understand it or say a certain prayer to make it real for me. It is about truth, physical and spiritual truth that is there, whether I’m ready for it or not, or feel it or not. I was confirmed in the Holy Spirit not because I felt filled with the Spirit but because Christ instituted it with His apostles and they instituted it to me through their successors. I received Jesus in the Eucharist not because I feel warm and fuzzy inside or I understand it completely but because Jesus said the words, “Take this, all of you and eat of us for this is my body”. I hope this gives encouragement to those of you who were cradle Catholics that didn’t have that awe inspired feeling at their Confirmation or First Holy Communion. None of us had the experience in our memory or emotion of what really took place at that time. If we did, we would die of love, and God wants us to live for Him!
Have I ever felt the Holy Spirit when I was a Protestant, of course! Did I have a meaningful personal relationship with Jesus at my non-denominational church? Yes! But I doubted it, I questioned it and I felt like it was up to me to get myself in that “good place” where I felt close to God. The Sacraments are just the opposite of this mentality. In the Mass we say the words “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the words and my soul shall be healed”. This quote from Matt 8:8 is of the centurion whom Jesus was talking to and inviting himself over to his house. We will never be worthy of God or of the Sacraments. We can never fully understand! But Jesus meets us in the Sacraments, He comes to us, He runs out to meet us like the prodigal son every Mass. It is a beautiful reality that doesn’t change when my feelings change or when it all happens so fast or when a certain priest doesn’t appear into it or people around me are just going through the motions or the songs we are singing doesn’t grab me. God humbles himself and comes to us, runs to us, through the power of the Holy Spirit and unites us to himself and the whole body of Christ in the Eucharist EVERY TIME…every, every time. We are never worthy or ready and can never fully prepare ourselves or muster up the appropriate emotions. It is the gift He longs to give us even though we can’t comprehend it or are not ready for it. It is the fulfillment of his promise “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matt 28:20
I sincerely invite everyone to this precious table our Lord and to take a deeper look into the Sacraments and read what the early church taught about them! The historical evidence is conclusive and pretty deep but profoundly beautiful. He is there waiting for you. You will never conceive or comprehend the things God has prepared for you in the Sacraments, but you will be touched by God, indefinitely and that is a gift that is worth everything. He is everything and I am so glad I am home in the Catholic Church. He has said the word and my soul is healed. Amen.
Thanks for reading.
-Rebecca Elizabeth Ann